Bye, Mac Tonnies

October 23, 2009

You’ll be missed.


His bloggo:



October 22, 2009

I want money, and the pursuit of it, and the love of it, and the problems inherent with it to become obsolete.  Meaning that it becomes so cumbersome that when the opportunity arises, people will slough it off like dead skin.  And hopefully not Goldmember it.

Today’s economics is an accretion wrought over time and is still evolving with each boom and bust.  But at it’s heart, it’s still and abstraction of bean counting, and we allow this abstraction to have weight in our lives, partially because we are born into it and have no exposure to other systems, and partially because of the convenience of having an entire subset of humanity that loves to love this abstraction and do ‘work’ with it.

Money is only as real as we want it to be.  I think most everybody understands this to a certain extent, but feels powerless to do anything about it.  So,  in taking a queue from good ol’ Bucky Fuller, if we want to get rid of the system, the best way to do so is to make it obsolete.

Easier said than done, of course.  Most proposals I’ve seen either want to go back to bartering, which probably works fine in a very small scale, or want to tweak the existing monetary system itself, such as the Douglas Social Credit.  In my heart of hearts, I’ll always be in love with Robert Anton Wilson’s RICH Economy idear, though I stopped holding my breath for that one after the Challenger disaster.

All of the systems above still use abstractions to represent intrinsic value.  I want to get away from that, get to something that’s real, or as real as this universe allows.  Enter the Kwid.

Kwid is a mangling of ‘kilowatt-hours per day’, which is a unit of power usually abbreviated kwh/d.  To my mind, it easily becomes ‘kwid’, which makes for a handy bad joke.

The idea of the kwid came to me after reading David MacKay’s Without the Hot Air piece.  It’s wonderful.  It needs to be integrated into every political leader on the planet’s frontal lobes.  ANYway.  It was his discussion of the need for better distribution of energy that clued me in to how such an arrangement might work.  The kilowatt-hr is as real as you’re going to get in terms of saying, ok, what does it take to do/make/go something/place?  It’s surprising how little somethings use up energy and how much some other things do.  Check out Doc MacKay’s work for all the details, if you dare.

So, great.  Every physical thing you can do can be represented as taking x amount of kwid to do so.  I contend that with a high enough and smart enough distribution of power storage,  such exchanges could take place easily.  Your account number is on your electric bill already.

How does one add to one’s account?

Make energy!  Feed the grid.  There’s a bajillion ways to do this.  Low-income folk might just ride a stationary bike for an hour.

There will be lightning harvests.

On the other end of the spectrum, my friend MCvDub pointed out that it was far more likely for The Powers That Be to simply switch everyone over to using their credit score as a vicious form of whuffie that you’re locked into at the time of inception, and your offspring are, too.  Evil never dies, afterall, and there are a lotta folk that simply love class distinction.  That’s a dystopian plot waiting to happen, if we aren’t already in the midst of it…

XML, A Love Story

October 21, 2009

What does XML mean to you?

Chances are that if you’re querying it at all, you already know what it is in general, and are looking for some specific solution to a problem you’re facing at work.  If not, well, bear with me and maybe you’ll find something a little intriguing.  I thought I knew what XML was, until I actually started working with it for a paycheck.  Turns out it means a lot of different things to different people, different situations.  Talk about naïveté.

So, what we have here is eXtensible Markup Language.   Nifty.  So what?  You’ve prolly heard of HTML, you know web pages,  so why would anyone want more markup languages?

In a word, archiving.

People like to be able to find their stuff.  There’s a lot of stuff on the web.  If part of your job involves getting yourself published in some format, to have your name and work cited, then it’s nice to be able to have a way to keep track of data that’s consistent and easy to implement.  And that’s where XML comes in.  It’s very flexible and a quick sproogle search will lead you to a plethora of tutorials.   What won’t be immediately apparent, however, is the importance of working under a specific tag suite, a specific Document Type Definition, or DTD.

A DTD is what XML uses as it’s rule book.  And there are lots of them.  Depending on the industry you’re working in, you might be using,  say, for scientific, medical, and technical publications, the Journal DTD suite of the National Library of Medicine.  Or, if you’re just doing a generic web page design, you might just use one of several generic DTDs.  It’s important to note, I think, that most web tutorials are going to assume you’ll be using a generic DTD.  And that’s fine for getting the hang of the markup language.  However, based on the experiences of this author’s slightly less dubious alter-ego working here, I would highly advise getting to know other DTD’s if you’re looking to branch out in your career.  If only so you can sound like you know what you’re doing a little bit more at that job interview.  It might just save you some heavy future water-treading, so to speak.


October 19, 2009

I must say I love this free utility from here:

WinDirStat takes a snapshot of how your hard disk is being used, and gives you a graphical interface for deleting chunks of data you don’t need anymore.  It’s great, it’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s even got eye-candy.  I managed to find all sorts of files that were tucked away that no longer needed to sit on the laptop, for instance.  Get a copy today and get yer hdd cleaned up before winter hibernation kicks in.

Interface of WinDirStat

Interface of WinDirStat

Strip his “Amateur Scientist” Badge.

October 18, 2009


Srsly.  This is all amateur science needs.  This is all Makers need.  One more reason for Authority to look at what you’re doing in your backyard with disdain. Hopefully my predicted fallout won’t occur.  Hopefully this will blow over like that Reality Television concept.


October 17, 2009

I love my Havana Joe boots.

They’re slip on, with that nifty elastic insert that I think Blundstone invented originally, but the HJ’s are made in Spain instead of India.  I don’t know how much of a difference that makes, but after trying both of the brands out at Altman’s in Chicago, the Joe’s were definitely a better fit for my foots, the soles are more robust and simply feel more comfortable.

They were a tad pricier than the Blunnies, but this was an emergency, as my ten dollar walmart specials literally exploded on the Magnificent Mile.  I figgered “Well, this experience is unlikely to shoe up again, and the HJ’s do feel realllllllly good so….” Yeah, I blew the rest of my travel money on a new pair of boots.  And I will add this:  The Joe’s prolly saved my Chicago walking experience.

I’ve never owned a pair of shoes before that make my feet smile.  It’s…bizarre.  And I like it.  I like it a lot.

Getting the threes taken care of first.

October 16, 2009

Getting the First Things, First.

The threes necessary for survival:

Three minutes: air
Three days: water
Three weeks: food
Three months: shelter
Three years: health maintenance

Hm. Left out three hours.
Bejeweled Blitz.